U.S. Markets

German jobless rate hits record low, job vacancies rise

BERLIN (Reuters) - German unemployment fell more than expected in October, pushing down the jobless rate in Europe’s biggest economy to a record low and signaling a likely fourth-quarter boost for private consumption and overall economic growth.

The seasonally adjusted jobless total fell by 13,000 to 2.662 million, the Labor Office said. That compared with a consensus forecast of a fall of 1,000 in a Reuters poll.

“Due to the autumn pick-up, unemployment fell significantly, employment rose again and demand for new staff increased further,” Frank-Juergen Weise, head of the Federal Labor Office, said.

The adjusted unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 6.0 percent, the lowest level since German reunification in 1990.

The number of job vacancies hit a record high of 691,000, suggesting companies are increasingly struggling to find new staff quickly on the labor market.

Additional workers were needed especially in the social and care sectors, in the retail and catering industry and in housing construction, KfW chief economist Joerg Zeuner said.

The government expects the number of people in employment to hit a record of 43.6 million this year and of 44 million in 2017. That should push up state revenues, enabling the government to increase state spending or reduce taxes.

At the same time, Berlin expects the number of unemployed to drop further to 2.69 million this year and 2.66 million next despite a record influx of migrants and refugees.

Germany registered more than 1 million arrivals from abroad this year and last, mainly from war-torn countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The government and federal states are spending more than 20 billion euros this year to accommodate them and help them to integrate.

The Finance Ministry said on Wednesday it would make an additional 3.8 billion euros ($4.21 billion) available over this year and next for states to help migrants join the labor market.

The surprisingly strong labor market data came after a survey showed German manufacturing growth reached an almost three-year high in October as Asian and U.S. demand rose.

To meet the rising demand, firms increased production and hired staff at a pace not seen since September 2011. About 20 percent of companies said they had made new hires.

The expanding workforce signals that at least the short-term outlook looks bright for German manufacturers.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Madeline Chambers and John Stonestreet